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Will mobile age usher in clean tech?

Posted: 24 Aug 2011     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:mobile era  system design  mobile systems 

EETimes' Rick Merritt hopes that corporates focus on ushering in the clean tech era to go hand-in-hand with the beginnings of the mobile age. Below is his view on the emerging mobile era.

If historians ever need a specific week to mark the beginning of the mobile era in technology, last week was a good candidate. But I hope they also find somewhere in our recent history strong signs of the birth of a clean tech era, too.

Last week Hewlett-Packard Co., the largest electronics company in the world, announced it's not sure whether or not it wants to keep its business unit that is the largest PC maker in the world. Google, arguably the most watched tech company on the planet, made its biggest acquisition ever—one of the companies that gave birth to and popularized the cell phone.

Yes, the mobile era is here.

At Hot Chips, I asked a veteran graphics processor designer from Nvidia what his biggest challenge is. He said understanding the still-evolving workloads of mobile systems.

It takes three years or more to go from concept to shipping product in the microprocessor world, so these engineers really try to understand what people are doing with their systems and guess what they will be doing in a few years. A lot of processor projects could flounder on the fact there wasn't much of a smartphone and virtually no tablet market three years ago.

These days, the Nvidia engineer said, he needs to think not just about how he will deliver the latest hot (literally) chip for playing PC games. He also needs to think about how he can build a device that can easily be subdivided into a compelling part for handsets and other portables.

I asked a Microsoft Xbox exec at Hot Chips what he thought was the biggest hardware challenge ahead. He said he couldn't talk with a reporter about most of them, but the one he was comfortable sharing was the increasingly heated battle between the ARM and Intel over the future of mainstream systems designs.

Intel charts new roadmaps
In his opening keynote speech at Computex in Taipei, Intel's Sean Maloney enumerated the company's development plans as it catches-up with existing market trends in mobile systems.
Learn more about Intel's roadmap.

Indeed, Intel recently revamped its processor roadmap to better serve mobile systems like tablets. For its part ARM has cranked up an initiative to get into servers, and is expected to support its first 64bit chips in the generation after its Cortex A15. Meanwhile AMD's chief exec got the axe, reportedly in part because he didn't get the mobile religion fast enough for the company's board.

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